#TheList farrier Michael Francis McNamara, born c. 1979, of Island Gate Stables, Saltash PL12 6RJ – violently attacked a horse to make the animal show him respect
An experienced farrier kicked and punched a horse and jabbed him several times with a metal object because he wanted the animal to “show him some respect”.
McNamara pleaded guilty to one charge of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
Prosecutor Lindi Meyer, on behalf of the RSPCA, said the incident happened in the presence of a child at some stables in the south east Cornwall area on the afternoon of January 4, 2019.
McNamara is a fourth generation farrier with 24 years of experience. He was clipping a Bay Gelding horse’s hooves when he “lost his temper” and began beating the animal.
In CCTV shown to the court, McNamara could be seen harshly picking up the horse’s legs, kicking and punching him and also jabbing him with a metal tool several times, all while shouting angrily at the terrified animal.
The horse attempted several times to swing away from McNamara, but was unable to as he was being held by a rope.
A vet concluded that the attack caused the horse pain lasting several days, with injuries including bruising and inflammation, as well as fear, anxiety and a future lack of trust.
“The horse was showing signs of fear and anxiety,” Ms Meyer said. “He offered the horse no reassurance. The horse was in fear and not understanding what was expected.”
In total McNamara punched the horse once, kicked him twice and struck him 18 times with the metal object, connecting each time.
In interview, McNamara admitted he was “heavy handed” and said the horse was “trying his patience”.
Ms Meyer said: “He said his bad back was causing him pain that day, and that he was just trying to get the horse to show him some respect.
“He didn’t agree with the vet’s opinion that the horse was fearful, but agreed he overreacted and lost his rag.”
Defending McNamara, who has no previous convictions, Tracey Baker said: “Hindsight is a wonderful thing and looking back at what happened, this defendant shouldn’t have gone to work that day.
“He made his decision and he has to live with that. He made full and frank admissions and he has been nothing but very genuinely remorseful.
“His prime concern is for his family and the impact on his father’s reputation, his father is very well known in the industry.
“As I say he has no explanation for his behaviour. It is deplorable, he knows that, and he is thoroughly ashamed of himself. This court case and the consequences are going to stay with him for a very long time.”
A number of yards have withdrawn McNamara’s services, meaning he is no longer working full-time.
Sentencing McNamara, District Judge Diane Baker said it was “gratuitous violence” on his part.
Aggravating factors were the presence of a child, abuse of a position of trust and the length of the beating, she said.
Judge Baker told McNamara: “I’ve read a very moving letter from your partner talking about you as a man and not just a farrier.
“You also deserve credit for working 24 years following a profession that’s important to you, and satisfying a large number of clients for a long period of time.
“All your references talk about the caring way you dealt with horses, and I have no doubt you are very remorseful and had unusual things to deal with in your personal life [at the time].
“But you are a professional man with a professional responsibility and despite that, you didn’t treat that pony in the way you were supposed to. I have seen frankly quite gratuitous violence while you were in a professional position.
“You should have calmed that pony. You kicked, punched and jabbed it numerous times with a weapon. I’ve seen the CCTV and the pony is simply standing there, clearly extremely frightened and it can’t get away.”
Judge Baker said she was considering sending McNamara to prison but took several factors into account, including because his actions were “severely out of character”.
Sentencing: six-month community order, including a curfew barring him from leaving his home between the hours of 7pm and 5am. Total of £385 costs and charges. Disqualified from working with equines for a period of three years, unless under adult supervision with the right of appeal after two.